Five were entered, but only four are expected to start in Saturday’s $600,000 Jim Dandy S. (G2) at Saratoga. Three runners in the 1 1/8-mile race own Kentucky Derby experience, including runner-up Epicenter and third-placer Zandon, and the other, Early Voting, captured the Preakness in his last outing.
Epicenter, runner-up in the Preakness last time, produced a dazzling wire-to-wire win in a deep Risen Star (G2) four starts back. And given he’s drawn inside frontrunning Early Voting in the starting gate, it will be interesting to see the tactics employed by Joel Rosario aboard the Steve Asmussen-trained colt. Look for Epicenter to show speed from the break.
Whether showing the way on the front end, or closely tracking Early Voting, Epicenter should be prominently placed, and Rosario will seek to save plenty for the latter stages.
Early Voting won his first two starts wire-to-wire, including the Withers (G3), but jockey Jose Ortiz settled an up-close second in the Preakness before taking charge on the far turn. He probably doesn’t want to get caught dueling on the front end Saturday.
Zandon, a rallying winner of the Blue Grass (G1), two back, will make his first appearance since the Kentucky Derby, and he appears to be at a tactical disadvantage with his off-the-pace run style. The $1.25 million Travers S. (G1) on Aug. 27 is the main goal, and Zandon just needs a solid late showing to set him up for next time.
Tawny Port, a closing seventh in the Kentucky Derby two back, exits a one-length score in the June 25 Ohio Derby (G3). That marked the second graded tally for the late-blooming son of Pioneerof the Nile colt, and while Tawny Port’s late-running style doesn’t appear favorable here, his progressing form gives him an outside chance to complete the exacta as the longest shot on the board. It’s probably best to look for more down the road from the Brad Cox-trained colt, and Tawny Port can set himself up for the Travers with a solid showing from off the pace.
Expert Pick of the Week: Epicenter over Early Voting in a straight exacta (2-4)